How To Protect Your Plants This Winter

Winter is coming, and you’ll need to prep.  Replace seasonal plants and protect perennials using this blog as a quick guide.  As always, though, do some additional research to save time and money.

What You’ll Learn:

In this how-to for protecting plants in winter, we’ll discuss:

  • How to keep various plants safe from winter conditions
  • When to cover outdoor plants
  • Recommended products for winter plant protection
  • Tips for specific plants and growing zones

Gardening aficionados and amateurs alike tend to share a common question once the weather starts to take a chilly turn: how do you keep plants from dying in winter?

From dropping temperatures to harsh frosts, your plants face more than their fair share of challenges during the winter months. And depending on where you live, cold weather preparations to protect plants can require varying levels of effort. But when you weigh the work of planning and prep against the frustration of long-lasting winter damage, learning how to best protect plants in winter is more than worth it.

From the snowy winters of the Midwest and Northeastern United States to the mild temperatures and sun of the American Southwest, protecting your plants is simple with just a bit of foresight, some quick planning, and basic supplies.

Protecting Plants in Winter

As you notice the last leaves falling from their branches, start gearing to get protective measures in place.  Don’t risk losing a multi-generation plant to poor planning!

Once fall begins to wind down, it’s time to start planning for winter. Of course, if you live somewhere with harsh, snowy winters, your preparation routine will look considerably different from that of a gardener in the warm Arizona desert. We’ve rounded up a collection of handy tips for prepping everything from trees to potted plants, giving you a useful cheat sheet to gardening during the winter.

Find your zone before winter hits; note your hardiness zone and the specific plants you have in your garden or yard. That way, you can be well-informed of the specific measures you’ll need to take during colder months.

Hardiness Zone Map, pulled from the USDA website.
Credit:, copyright 2012.

Start prepping early by focusing on strengthening the soil where your plants live. An excellent soil additive, such as Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner, can dramatically improve the soil and plant roots structure, boosting hardiness and improving both nutrient and water absorption.

Proper watering and mulching are helpful when caring for flowers, trees, and shrubs alike.

If you are in the north, be wary of heavy snows and ices, which can bend, twist, and even completely break branches and trunks (including large, well-established ones).

Watch for salt runoff sources, which can cause significant damage to stems and trunks, especially in evergreen foliage.

How Do I Protect My Potted Plants in the Winter?

Container plants may be more vulnerable to temperature dips, but luckily they are easily relocated and covered.  If you must keep them outside, keep an eye on those weather reports!

Typically, the roots are the most vulnerable part of a plant, particularly when faced with low temperatures. When a plant is placed in a container, such as a pot or a planter, the roots are even more exposed to the cold. Now, not only does the freezing air reach them through the surface of the soil but through the sides of the planter as well. Although larger pots do allow for more soil insulation, you may still need to take protective measures depending on your hardiness zone:

Zone 8 and higher: You generally don’t need to worry about taking extra care to protect plants in pots during winter, with the exception of keeping them safe from the occasional frost (especially if you have tropical plants). 

Zone 7 and lower: Since you can usually expect at least a handful of good frosts in these zones, as well as scattered snow. The ideal solution is to relocate each potted plant to a cold space to maintain dormancy without causing damage. Filtered light, shelter, and closely-arranged groups of pots are also a good idea. 

Alternatively, if you can’t move your pots, the best option is to wrap them with a combination of burlap and bubble wrap. Start with a layer or two of bubble wrap, then top it with burlap for extra insulation. A layer of burlap over the top of a dormant plant can also be beneficial.

At What Temperature Do You Need to Cover Your Plants?

If frost has formed, you are likely too late.  Some plants have some resiliency to frost, but to many other, this is the kiss of death.  Know your plants, buy an Almanac to research historical frost dates, and again, keep an eye on the weather station.

Determining at what temperature to cover plants in winter largely depends on what type of plants they are. A useful rule of thumb is that at 28 degrees and colder, most plants will freeze within five hours. This means that once overnight temperatures are dipping to the 30-35 degree mark, it’s time to get out the plant covers for winter.

Unfortunately, many plants’ lives and linear instead of cyclical; when the seasons advance, they will die out.  Knowing this will help you avoid a false sense of failure, and then allow you to have replacements ready to keep your property alive with foliage. 

Of course, there are certain exceptions to the rule, such as:

  • Tropical plants: Plants belonging to the tropical families will have issues with a temperature drop below 40 degrees, which means that you’ll probably need to stay on top of things from late fall to early spring.
  • Seedlings: With tender leaves that are far more susceptible to freeze, seedlings can only withstand temperatures around 32-33 degrees before waving the white flag.
  • Palms: Cold-sensitive palms and those that are less than two years old can fall victim to temperatures near or below the point of freezing.
  • Hydrangeas: Hydrangeas are surprisingly hardy and can happily survive with just some mulch and burlap until the temp dips below 0 degrees – at that point, protective covers are necessary.
  • Delicate perennial vines: Some of the more fragile vines may not be a good fit for your zone, so choose wisely. However, even tropical vines such as bougainvillea can survive chilly temps. If you live somewhere that gets below 40 degrees, place the vine in a larger planter and then plant that pot where you’d like it to start climbing.   At the end of fall, trim back the vine or allow it to go dormant.

You can opt to invest in high-quality plant covers, but household items such as:

  • Sheets and towels
  • blankets,
  • even cardboard works in a pinch.

Try to avoid allowing the covers to touch the foliage and have plants covered before dark (to trap the warmer air). In the morning, take off the covers once frost melts and the temperatures begin to warm; otherwise, you risk overheating your plants.

Keep Your Plants Stronger, Longer with Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner

Proper preparation and high-quality products can make a world of difference in your plants’ health, especially when it comes to surviving tough conditions during the coldest time of year. But whether it’s winter, summer, spring, or fall, ensuring that your plants have a solid soil foundation is key.

Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner is a premium soil additive that’s specifically designed to support a stronger soil structure and root system, giving your plants what they need to weather almost anything. Locally sourced, chemical-free, and certified organic, our product sets the stage for a thriving garden, lawn, trees, and potted plants year-round. Once you make Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner part of your gardening regimen, you’ll notice that your plants are more resilient against temperature changes, cold weather, frost, and more. Season after season, the results will speak for themselves: Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner is your secret to a green thumb.

Be ready to protect your plants all winter by ordering a supply of Harvest Gold Premium Soil Conditioner today.

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